This blog is provided by the IPR Measurement Commission.

Considering the impact of COVID-19 on communication, now is a good time to revisit some of the research regarding the characteristics, objectives, and practices of 20 leading international chief communications officers (CCOs) in the context of the new COVID-19 “normal.” This IPR study examined CCOs’ use of measurement and evaluation programs and their benefits.

Research Recap
Prior research suggests that combining multiple data sources and developing both business and communication insights enables communication professionals to reach out to other business units, C-Suite executives, and Boards of Directors to share tools and contribute to business decisions.

Having the understanding and support of non-communication executives and senior management is essential as it enables communication leaders to:
— Adjust communication strategies.
— Align the communication function with other business units and their strategies.
— Integrate communication with an organization’s business priority plans.

This in turn enables the communication function to play an essential role in connecting and aligning the organization’s business and communications strategies with all stakeholder goals and objectives.

By taking a data-led approach, the communication function can contribute not only to messaging and content, but also to organizational policy, strategy, and planning across the enterprise. This leads to integrated marketing and messaging strategies, which are a key driver of organizational success.

Prior research suggests that engaging all internal stakeholders in research encourages strategic alignment, which allows communicators to craft messages that unlock desired audience responses. Tactical business and communication strategies and programs can then be developed to appeal on some level to each audience segment, leading to new business opportunities.

It’s the analysis and interpretation of relevant target metrics that identify exactly where new business opportunities lie.

The Impact of COVID-19
COVID-19’s impact on business has been well documented. One of the most significant outcomes we’ve seen is a more agile management style to deal with changing national and international market conditions.

That new management style fits the study findings; it implies that internal alignment and cohesive planning are now fundamental to external agility.

We believe research and evaluation programs of an organization’s markets can and should play a significant role in supporting such a new approach.

Public health communication during COVID-19 presents a case for the importance of agility in a fast-changing communication landscape. Vaccination debates have raged in the media, requiring communicators to address issues immediately and reframe them in the context of their organization or client’s specific position.

There is a valuable role here for market research to align with communication evaluation. Market segmentation is an effective tool for developing insight into specific target markets to understand customer profiles and evaluate the brand value and corporate reputation. This can set the scene for brand health and reputation tracking programs. Conveying those findings to both communication and non-communication executives has never been more pertinent.

As COVID-19 vaccination programs are finally scaled up globally, it would be interesting to observe, evaluate, and measure the impact this agile evaluation would have on the vaccination curve of individual countries. In particular, the capacity for Government Health messages to quickly react in relevant ways to speed vaccination adoption.

IPR Support
The original paper was supported by the Institute for Public Relations and authored by Rebecca Swenson, Ph.D., of the University of Minnesota; Nathan Gilkerson, Ph.D. of Marquette University; and three IPR Measurement Commission Members: Fraser Likely, Forrest W. Anderson, and Michael Ziviani.

Michael Ziviani is Founder and CEO of Precise Value Australia. He is also a member of the IPR Measurement Commission.

Forrest Anderson is a member of the IPR Measurement Commission.

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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